Ranma 1/2 (SNES): COMPLETED!

Another retro game chosen pretty much at random today, but Ranma 1/2 is leagues ahead of Running Battle, despite not being all that fantastic itself.

It’s a one-on-one fighting game, and clearly doesn’t have the depth of anything like Street Fighter II, or even Fatal Fury. You’ve four buttons, light and heavy attacks, jump, and block. Pressing both attack buttons together performs a special move, which for Ranma himself (who I played as) is some sort of whirlwind thing which rarely did anything useful.

ranma

Since I know a little of the original Ranma 1/2 story, having characters I knew elevated it a bit higher than other similar games from the same era. Each foe required different tactics to beat as well, which made it more interesting but looking at it now it seems this was to replace proper reactive AI. I can see it being a lot more fun in two player mode.

In single player though, it was far too easy (I didn’t lose a single round) and so over too quickly. A lack of moves is a minus as well, although since I had no instructions it’s possible there were a load I just didn’t figure out, despite trying Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat style control acrobatics.

Click to view slideshow.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the game is that it came out in the west, as it’s just about the most Japanese thing ever. Mind you, Goeman did too, so who knows.

The post Ranma 1/2 (SNES): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

PLAY Margate 2015

This weekend I went to PLAY Margate, a games exhibition which is the little brother to equivalents in Manchester and Blackpool.  It was great; many different types of games all set up to be played with, random competitions, themed areas, and stalls selling stuff.  Obviously I didn't buy anything - cough - but I played plenty.

Chuckie Egg - BBC Model B

Justine's favourite game of all time, and it would have probably been great if I could find the key to go up ladders.  The joystick didn't work; I worked out that the keys V and N moved left and right, and the space bar jumped.  But standing in front of a ladder, I tried every key and none of them made me climb.   In desperation I tried every key on the keyboard, including the Break key which obviously quit the game.  I had to quickly search on the Internet how to restart it ...


Head over Heels - CPC 664

A game I've never given enough time to, but will certainly be doing so in the near future.  I started from the very beginning and realised that without graph paper I wasn't going to make a dent on the game.

Manic Miner - Spectrum

I've always found it overrated, but that might be because I didn't play it at the time and only experience it after being used to the platforming on consoles.  Fixed jumping paths and overly tight timing isn't a huge amount of fun.

Mine Storm - Vectrex

I've never played on a Vectrex, and was very pleasantly surprised with this.  Graphically it looks fantastic, and the way the game expands on the Asteroids template by introducing enemies that move towards you, fire back, or move quickly around the screen.  The controls were very tight indeed, and I managed to reach the fourth level before losing my first - and indeed my last - life.



PGR4 - Xbox 360

They had a competition for the best time around a certain circuit.  I only managed to get within 5 seconds of the winning time - I need more practice!

Hang On - Master System

Talking of competitions, there was a more formal competition where you had to record high scores for three different games.  Hang On was the first; I'd been playing the 3DS version a few days before so thought I would do OK but the Master System game just felt all wrong and as a result my scores weren't great.  I still got 28th highest score of the weekend, though!


Kung Fu Master - NES

Kung Fu Master was the second game, which I did rather better on despite never having played before - 6th highest of the weekend, and setting a high score on the machine I was using.  It's a relatively simplistic game, but I quickly worked out that punching an enemy gives 200 points while kicking gives only 100 - so I was able to work through levels building up points quickly.

Pop n Pop - PlayStation

Again, I'd never played this but quickly got the idea.  Challenge mode sees you working on two sides of the screen simultaneously, firing balloons upwards to form groups of three or more.  It took a little while but I soon worked out how to set up combos, which gave many more points and extended my playtime.  In the end I came 8th on the leaderboards.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Master System

I played through the Green Hill Zone mainly to amuse a couple of toddlers who were watching, managing to get through without dying.  Some people say that this game is better than the Mega Drive games; they are wrong.  It's still good though.



Sonic & Knuckles - Mega Drive

As part of the same display as the MS game, they had Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and Sonic Generations - representing the evolution of Sonic.   It's quite telling that the later games - other than Generations - were being less played.  I had a quick blast through the Sandopolis Zone, which is where the previous player had left off, and was reminded how much fun it was. I may need to go and play the Xbox 360 versions some more.

Street Fighter Alpha - Saturn

Similar to Sonic, there was a display showing the evolution of Street Fighter.  They didn't have a version of the original game on display, starting with SFII on the SNES, but I chose to try Alpha, a game I've not played before.  Initially I tried to play as Final Fight's Guy, before realising I didn't know any of his special moves and losing in the second fight.  I then tried Ken, and fought through four fights, before losing when the computer used the special gauge which is something I've never quite worked out.

Crazy Kong - C64

A hilarious rip-off on Donkey Kong, which basically changed the layout of some of the levels and made everything brown.  That latter bit may have been the C64 though.

Micro Machines 2 - Mega Drive

A couple of games against three random opponents in the multiplayer arena.  I won two and lost one, which felt like an achievement given that I had no idea of the courses before racing.

Defender - Arcade

I'm not sure I've played this before, actually - it was more complex than I was expecting. I'm sure I've played something very similar but without the humans to rescue, and given that that is a central mechanic, it must have been a different game.  Anyway, I played through a few levels of this before dying.

Crazy Taxi - Dreamcast

I got an A licence!  Mainly because I did a drift into a wall and sat there racking up points for 30 seconds, half way through my run.  It's amazing how much of the map I can remember, and despite the joypad having seen better days I managed a few limit cuts on the way down the hill.

Samba de Amigo - Wii

The music in the hall was too loud to be able to play this properly (or Donkey Konga, which kept hearing the clap sounds constantly), but I can't understand why they were showing the worst version of this.  Why not the arcade game, or the Dreamcast version?  And why has this never been released for Playstation Move?

Tomb Raider II - Playstation

A few minutes of exploring Venice, which took me back to the Christmas when I got my Playstation. I still prefer TRII to the first game, even if the rest of the world is the other way around.

Super Mario Kart - SNES

I still prefer later games to this.  Mario Kart 8 is just so much better.  They actually had quite a few of these in a display, but I've played the others to death and have them all at home anyway.


Random shooter game - 3DO

An illustration of how far first person shooters have become.  I have no idea what this game was, and searching for screenshots has turned up nothing. 


It was just a bit dull.

Pong - Binatone

A game against a random man.  We were both hopeless and unable to control the bat.


Arkanoid - Arcade

And another game I was hopeless at, having lost my ability to control with a paddle wheel.  After losing the first game very quickly, I lasted a bit longer on my second attempt and even got onto the high score table.  The last position, but still.

PLAY Margate 2015

This weekend I went to PLAY Margate, a games exhibition which is the little brother to equivalents in Manchester and Blackpool.  It was great; many different types of games all set up to be played with, random competitions, themed areas, and stalls selling stuff.  Obviously I didn't buy anything - cough - but I played plenty.

Chuckie Egg - BBC Model B

Justine's favourite game of all time, and it would have probably been great if I could find the key to go up ladders.  The joystick didn't work; I worked out that the keys V and N moved left and right, and the space bar jumped.  But standing in front of a ladder, I tried every key and none of them made me climb.   In desperation I tried every key on the keyboard, including the Break key which obviously quit the game.  I had to quickly search on the Internet how to restart it ...


Head over Heels - CPC 664

A game I've never given enough time to, but will certainly be doing so in the near future.  I started from the very beginning and realised that without graph paper I wasn't going to make a dent on the game.

Manic Miner - Spectrum

I've always found it overrated, but that might be because I didn't play it at the time and only experience it after being used to the platforming on consoles.  Fixed jumping paths and overly tight timing isn't a huge amount of fun.

Mine Storm - Vectrex

I've never played on a Vectrex, and was very pleasantly surprised with this.  Graphically it looks fantastic, and the way the game expands on the Asteroids template by introducing enemies that move towards you, fire back, or move quickly around the screen.  The controls were very tight indeed, and I managed to reach the fourth level before losing my first - and indeed my last - life.



PGR4 - Xbox 360

They had a competition for the best time around a certain circuit.  I only managed to get within 5 seconds of the winning time - I need more practice!

Hang On - Master System

Talking of competitions, there was a more formal competition where you had to record high scores for three different games.  Hang On was the first; I'd been playing the 3DS version a few days before so thought I would do OK but the Master System game just felt all wrong and as a result my scores weren't great.  I still got 28th highest score of the weekend, though!


Kung Fu Master - NES

Kung Fu Master was the second game, which I did rather better on despite never having played before - 6th highest of the weekend, and setting a high score on the machine I was using.  It's a relatively simplistic game, but I quickly worked out that punching an enemy gives 200 points while kicking gives only 100 - so I was able to work through levels building up points quickly.

Pop n Pop - PlayStation

Again, I'd never played this but quickly got the idea.  Challenge mode sees you working on two sides of the screen simultaneously, firing balloons upwards to form groups of three or more.  It took a little while but I soon worked out how to set up combos, which gave many more points and extended my playtime.  In the end I came 8th on the leaderboards.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Master System

I played through the Green Hill Zone mainly to amuse a couple of toddlers who were watching, managing to get through without dying.  Some people say that this game is better than the Mega Drive games; they are wrong.  It's still good though.



Sonic & Knuckles - Mega Drive

As part of the same display as the MS game, they had Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and Sonic Generations - representing the evolution of Sonic.   It's quite telling that the later games - other than Generations - were being less played.  I had a quick blast through the Sandopolis Zone, which is where the previous player had left off, and was reminded how much fun it was. I may need to go and play the Xbox 360 versions some more.

Street Fighter Alpha - Saturn

Similar to Sonic, there was a display showing the evolution of Street Fighter.  They didn't have a version of the original game on display, starting with SFII on the SNES, but I chose to try Alpha, a game I've not played before.  Initially I tried to play as Final Fight's Guy, before realising I didn't know any of his special moves and losing in the second fight.  I then tried Ken, and fought through four fights, before losing when the computer used the special gauge which is something I've never quite worked out.

Crazy Kong - C64

A hilarious rip-off on Donkey Kong, which basically changed the layout of some of the levels and made everything brown.  That latter bit may have been the C64 though.

Micro Machines 2 - Mega Drive

A couple of games against three random opponents in the multiplayer arena.  I won two and lost one, which felt like an achievement given that I had no idea of the courses before racing.

Defender - Arcade

I'm not sure I've played this before, actually - it was more complex than I was expecting. I'm sure I've played something very similar but without the humans to rescue, and given that that is a central mechanic, it must have been a different game.  Anyway, I played through a few levels of this before dying.

Crazy Taxi - Dreamcast

I got an A licence!  Mainly because I did a drift into a wall and sat there racking up points for 30 seconds, half way through my run.  It's amazing how much of the map I can remember, and despite the joypad having seen better days I managed a few limit cuts on the way down the hill.

Samba de Amigo - Wii

The music in the hall was too loud to be able to play this properly (or Donkey Konga, which kept hearing the clap sounds constantly), but I can't understand why they were showing the worst version of this.  Why not the arcade game, or the Dreamcast version?  And why has this never been released for Playstation Move?

Tomb Raider II - Playstation

A few minutes of exploring Venice, which took me back to the Christmas when I got my Playstation. I still prefer TRII to the first game, even if the rest of the world is the other way around.

Super Mario Kart - SNES

I still prefer later games to this.  Mario Kart 8 is just so much better.  They actually had quite a few of these in a display, but I've played the others to death and have them all at home anyway.


Random shooter game - 3DO

An illustration of how far first person shooters have become.  I have no idea what this game was, and searching for screenshots has turned up nothing. 


It was just a bit dull.

Pong - Binatone

A game against a random man.  We were both hopeless and unable to control the bat.


Arkanoid - Arcade

And another game I was hopeless at, having lost my ability to control with a paddle wheel.  After losing the first game very quickly, I lasted a bit longer on my second attempt and even got onto the high score table.  The last position, but still.

Aladdin: still amazing

I've been fiddling with the emulators on the Wii recently and have finally managed to get them in a state where they're easy enough to use.  I've also been experimenting with ROMs I've picked up.

The joys of being an adult and being interested in retro games is that many of the cartridges you long after when you're young can be had for a pittance when you're older - and you have the money to spend on them as well.  The disadvantage is having space to store them and the machines.  I've been buying various cart games off eBay for years, but often these have sat unplayed because my Mega Drive, Master System Converter, Game Gear, and so on, are all in the loft.  This emulation gives me a handy way of playing the games - and, of course, adding features such as save states and allowing me to run it through my video capture box.  It's not as good as using original hardware, due to the controllers, the lack of a clunk as the cartridge engages, and some emulation oddities, but it'll do.

The other benefit is that I get to try out some of the games I never played when I was young.  I've never owned a SNES, though have played many of the games through Virtual Console or other rereleases.  One day I will get a second-hand console, but until then this is ideal.

Anyway.  When setting the emulators up, the first game I wanted to try was the Mega Drive version of Aladdin.  This was always one of my favourite games when I was young, and I was great at it - making it all the way through without losing a life or even throwing any apples.  I thought that at the same time, I should try the SNES game, which was made by a completely different company, and also try the Master System and Game Gear games, which I own on cartridge but have never played.

Mega Drive



I immediately noticed that the game felt faster, which probably means that the 50Hz conversion wasn't entirely optimised.  Having said that, the difference felt marginal, and if anything controls felt a little less defined than I remember.  I last played the game on the Mega Drive about four years ago, so it may be a memory trick.

I ran through the first level with ease; I can remember ever jump, every enemy, every secret.  I lost a life on purpose just before the end of the level since I couldn't remember what happened - the genie int eh boxing ring.  I picked up the golden Abu and completed the bonus stage.


I played halfway through the desert before deciding that I ought to get on with one of the other versions, rather than spend the entire day playing this again.  It's still an amazing game, one of my favourites of all time, and I will play it again soon even if only to get to the rug ride stage.

SNES


It certainly looks nice, though the animation on Aladdin feels a bit off - his running animation isn't quite at the same speed as he moves.  And the controls feel a bit off as well, though this may be due to the emulation.  I went in expecting a bit of a rubbish game, because I've always been told it's not as good as the Mega Drive game ... and while it's definitely inferior, it's actually pretty good anyway.  You don't feel as free and athletic running through the streets, there isn't the same sense of scale and exploration, and it's doesn't make you smile as much when dispatching enemies.  It's still fun.

Master System



I wasn't sure what to expect from this.  I've never heard much about it at all, other than how great it looks.  And you know, it does look pretty amazing.  Obviously it suffers from direct comparisons to the Mega Drive game, but the animation is still top-notch, and it's vibrant and colourful.

What really surprised me was the complete difference in game style.  This is more like the endless runners that are now popular on the App Store, except with an end point.  The screen constantly scrolls, and you have to jump obstacles and avoid enemies in order to not get caught behind.  At first it's quite tricky, but you soon learn the level and can breeze through it.


The backgrounds are impressively drawn and the game moves at a fair pace.  I only completed the first two levels, but I will be back for the rest at some point - I do own the cartridge, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays on original hardware.

Game Gear



As with most games of the time, the Game Gear version is just a port of the Master System game, with a reduced window and slightly brighter graphics.  This makes the game a lot harder, as obstacles appear in front of Aladdin with much less notice.  It was no doubt great for anyone without other versions to compare it to, but against the Master System game it just seems unfair.

Game memories: F

Feel the Magic XX-XY (DS)
Project Rub in the UK, but I got this with my imported US DS ahead of the European launch.  In many ways it was an ideal game to launch the DS with, showing many varied ideas on how the touchscreen could be used.  It didn't hang together that well, but I remember the black, white and orange colour scheme vividly.

F1 '97 (PS)
Murray Walker shouting "He's on the green stuff" over and over again; tracks being messes of pixels a little way down the road.  A great game.

F1 2010 (Xbox 360)
Far too many options and menus to wade through.  Completing a single race in the career mode took ages, since you had to go through practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself.  Ideal for people who love F1, but for me it was just a bit painful.

F1 2011 (3DS)
As with F1 2010 above, but with a third of the framerate.

F355 Challenge Passione Rossa (Dreamcast)
At the time this felt like a massive technical achievement and tales of the arcade machine using three monitors underlined the game's credentials.  I played it for about fifteen minutes before being totally overwhelmed by the options and realistic gameplay - in other words, I kept spinning off the track, couldn't work out how to switch to a behind-car view, and had better things to play instead.

Field Commander (PSP)
Like Advance Wars but with little charm, little challenge, and a rubbish online mode.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Gamecube)
I've never completed a proper Final Fantasy game; I've never even passed the first hour of one.  This, however, was played loads at virtually every games night we held.  Kieron had a bucket on his head, I was a Selkie.  John was accomplished at ranged combat, we all could heal each other but often didn't.

Fire Emblem (GBA)
I never completed this.  I remember it getting very stressful due to the fact that if a character died in a mission, they remained dead.  I restarted missions again and again to protect my favourite characters, and as a result it grew stale and too difficult.

Floigan Brothers: Episode One (Dreamcast)
It's a shame there was no episode two - this was an amusing game which was unlike anything else, as with a lot of Sega's Dreamcast output.  It was far too short and there was a bit too much collection required as far as I recall.  I got this in Singapore and worked out pretty quickly that it was a pirate version, but bought the proper version on my return from HMV for a fiver.

Ford Racing 3 (Xbox)
I was convinced to buy this by people on RLLMUK praising the second game, the fact it was online (when there were few other online games around, and it was £10 brand new.  I think I played it online three times and offline twice, before being tempted away by other games that were just more fun to play.

F-Zero (SNES, Wii, Wii U)
F-Zero GX (Gamecube)
F-Zero X (N64)
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA, 3DS)
GX is the best.  The Mode 7 games are a bit pants now, but at the time they seemed great, particularly on the GBA where the handling was much more refined.  Replaying them now, they are just too floaty and the career mode is a bit lightweight with daft difficulty spikes.

Future Tactics: the Uprising (Gamecube)
I bought this in the US and as a result, the hassle needed to load the game meant that I played it little.  A shame, as when I did I remember it being a clever game melding a strategy turn-based game with something that felt more action-based.  I'm now able to play US games on my modded Wii; I may try this again when I find it.

Fighting Vipers (Saturn, Xbox 360)
I continue to be hopeless at fighting games that are more complicated that Street Fighter II, but Fighting Vipers has a pleasing lack of combo, super and extra EX WTF meters.  The fighting feels solid and the idea of being able to knock off armour works well.  I get the feeling that if I played this a bit more I could get quite good at it.  That's unlikely to happen.

Pilotwings: smoother in 60Hz

This is possibly the first time I've found the difference between 50Hz and 60Hz to have a significant impact on a game.  When I tried to play Pilotwings previously, I found that I was constantly fighting with the controls and didn't enjoy it.  Amusingly, I forecast at the time that I'd go back to the game "in a couple of years".


On the Wii U, it's the 60Hz version, and it feels much more responsive.  I still found control of the skydiver quite tricky, as it's difficult to see how to move forwards and keep a good speed, but the rocketpack was much easier to deal with.


My other main complaint previously was the difficulty in judging distances, and in particular how quickly you can descend to land.  I think that this simply requires a lot of practice, but the game doesn't let you repeat just one mission as far as I can see.


It looks like the landing zone is miles away here, but to get there requires a lot of diving and pushing the nose down, which of course then means you're going too fast to land.  I shall have to work out how to do this more consistently.

Super Mario World: the third attempt

I played Super Mario Advance 2, but never got that far - which is surprising.  I played the Wii VC version of the game for a bit, but stopped for some reason after passing Donut Plains.  Now I've upgraded that to the Wii U VC version, I'm going to try to complete a game which many hail as the best of all time, but I've only scratched the surface of.

Yes, I know.  I'm still halfway through NSMBW and NSMBU.  Shh.


Initial impressions aren't great.  The text is really hard to read - had Nintendo never heard of kerning? - and the controls feel a bit imprecise.  This may be because of the travel on the buttons on the Wii gamepad, and the use of the analogue stick.  In any case, after a while the controls weren't an issue.


In this screen, you can see Mario rescuing Yoshi.  Two things to note here: Mario seems to be able to float in mid air, and Yoshi is singularly useless, getting captured around 100 metres from his home.  It hardly seems worth the effort.


I completed the first set of levels pretty quickly, and then got stuck on the first level where you can collect the feather that turns into a cape.  That cost me three lives, because I kept expecting Yoshi to be able to swallow the baseballs lobbed at him.


I finished at the second level in Donut Plains, annoyed with the red dot indicating that there's a secret exit on the first level.  I know how to get to it - you need the green switch palace - but I hate leaving it blinking there.

Super Metroid: nearly dead

I've been waiting for this to be on special offer since I got my Wii U.  The first Metroid game I played was Fusion on the GBA, which pre-dated this blog.  Metroid Zero Mission was completed in 2005, after an intensive playing time.  I've since wanted more of the 2D games, but there wasn't an easy way to get either the second game or Super Metroid - I have a feeling that the latter may have been on the Wii Virtual Console but I never thought to look there.

Anyway, I've started this now.


Oh no!  And that's where the last Metroid is!  I'd better go back!


But nobody's home.

Eventually I got through to the end of the space station, where a big bird thing stole the Metroid and fought me.  I was massively underpowered and nearly died - but luckily the enemy scarpered before I died.

Arriving on the planet, I descended down a shaft until I found a blue door.  Going through ... and I could go no further.  Huh.


After a bit of exploration, I finally found the morph ball, meaning I could go through the tunnel.  A little way.  There was a block just a way down a tunnel.


A bit more exploration ...


This meant I could go through the tunnel at last.


There wasn't much at the end (a bunch of missiles), but at least on the way back I could take a shortcut.


At least I have a few upgrades now, but I still feel pretty underpowered - so walking into this room I was rather apprehensive.  Luckily it appears to be a statue, or at least it is at the moment.


I found another lift down, but I didn't want to go down until I'd coloured in the blue.


There's quite a way to go ...